If you’re doing it for your business, it’s managing. If you’re doing it for your people, it’s leading.
You would be hard pressed today to find many people complaining about being “over-led.” You would not however have to look very far to discover groups of people feeling as if they are “over-managed” on a daily basis. It amazes me that after decades of discussion about the difference between managing and leading most organizations today remain over-managed and under-led.
Much has been written regarding the differences between managing and leading. Some people, a few of them very knowledgeable in the ways of business, will still tell you there is no difference, that it is all semantics. The number of those people shrink every year. With the Millennial generation now assuming leadership roles it will be shrinking even faster. The good news is that today more people than ever, followers and leaders alike, would say that without a doubt there is a difference and it’s huge.
What is the difference? Let’s begin by explaining what leadership is not. It is not about a great personality or striking charisma. While a great personality and a bit of charisma can certainly help a leader’s cause, they are not absolute requirements for a leader. Leadership is also not a replacement for management. Both leadership and management are essential for success and that is even truer in challenging business environments. Finally, leadership is not a set of intangible skills that are hard to describe. Leadership skills are every bit as tangible as those of the most successful managers.
In a nutshell you manage stuff and you lead people. Leadership is about people, developing people, coaching people, nurturing people, and helping common people achieve uncommon results.
Managing is about coping with the current situation. Leadership is about defining the future. Good managers use processes and control systems to make certain things “run” as designed. Leaders see things as they are and ask “how can we do better?” Managers follow and encourage others to follow the plan. Leaders develop the plan and that plan closely resembles their vision of the future for the organization.
Managing is about helping good people do well. Leadership is about helping good people become great. Managers “assign” tasks to achieve planned for results. Leaders “delegate” tasks to help their people grow. Managers spend time on their people to ensure the tasks are accomplished. Leaders invest time with their people to enable them to excel and surpass the requirements of the task. Managers organize their people according to the task, in the hope that they succeed. Leaders align their people according to their strengths to ensure that they succeed.
Here’s a quick check for you. If you have a person working for you who is struggling and you think to yourself that you’re going to have to spend time on them to “fix” them, then you have a managerial mindset when it comes to your people. If however when thinking of that same person you think to yourself, I want to invest time with that person in order to help them develop, then you have a leadership mindset about your people.
Well-managed people and organizations can survive tough times. Well-led people and organizations can thrive in tough times. Good organizations have people that excel as managers and people that excel as leaders. Great organizations have people that excel as managers and leaders. While the skill set of a manager is different than the skill set of a leader many people indeed possess both. They move seamlessly between mindsets as they grow their business by growing their people.
True success as a leader is only possible when we realize that what makes us a good manager will not make us a great leader. The most successful people have developed themselves in both areas.
What about you?
7 thoughts on “Are You a Manager Who Thinks They are Leading?”
Millions of words have been written about the subject. Here I will tell about one short example that illustrates the meaning of leadership. While a manager creates value, generates results and administrates effectively, if the knowledge and talent exist of course, the leader does much more, on top of all that.
First of all, builds the team making all members feel valuable. Induces an atmosphere of cooperation, loyalty, dedication, empathy. The leader does that, not just by issuing orders or commands. The leader, does it by leading, showing the way, doing. The leader inspires.
Now the short real time example story.
The leader had a quite serious accident. Multiple bone fractures including some in the spine and a small brain hemorrhage. The close team of 6-7 working with the manager of that medium size organization was devastated, torn with worry.
Interned in the hospital, laying in bed with one leg in a plaster cast from the toes to the hip and the neck in a collar immobilizing the head. Three days of examinations, scans, x-rays, doctors weighting what would be the right treatment approach, what type of operations to perform.
The team is in constant close contact asking for updates and hoping for the best.
The leader feels the stress the team is going through, not only the worrying about the health situation of the “boss”, but they must keep the organization up and running.
36 hours after the accident, while uncertain of the extent of the damage that “boss” has a meeting in the hospital while still in bed with a team member and together, define the actions to be taken. Then, a day later, realizing that the team stressful situation demands some pressure release, picks the phone and orders a take away surprise lunch to be delivered to the office.
It takes a special way of addressing the complex situation. Dividing attention and considering not only the self, but the implications on all involved.
This is an example of how being unselfish, zooming out and considering the big picture, not only helps crystallize a close knitted team, but, not less important, giving the leader some peace of mind counting on the team to make the best efforts.
A small detail with a strong and lasting impact generated by honest concern that reinforces that inspiration, a vital ingredient in the leadership recipe.©
Thank you sir for your excellent comment. What you describe is a leader who has the courage to show they care… caring is one of the prerequisites of truly leading. The person you describe in hospital had no choice but to look out for their team because they truly cared about them. Excellent example!
Steve, I would like to reprint this blog post in a magazine I manage. I would of course credit you, include a brief biography and photo, and mention your blog. Can you tell me how to begin that process? Thank you.
Hi Kristi, I’ll email you some info on reprinting my post.